HITS Daily Double


Former Seagram Chief Seeks to Make a Run at His Old Entertainment Empire
Reports in both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times today say that Vivendi Universal Vice Chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. is indeed looking to put together financing in the $15-17 billion range to buy back the entertainment assets he sold Vivendi as chief of Seagram three years ago.

Those assets include Univeral Music Group, Universal Studios and cable channels USA and Sci Fi. Possible investors willing to back Bronfman’s bid include New York’s Cablevision Systems, which is expected to contribute its AMC, Women’s Entertainment Network and Independent Film Channel assets to a new Bronfman company, and Cablevision investor/private equity firm Quadrangle.

Others said to be interested in pursuing a bid with Bronfman, either as providers of loans or direct investors, include Wachovia Securities, Merril Lynch, Providence Equity, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Blackstone, which already owns 50% of VU’s theme parks division.

Now that his plans to make a run at the Universal assets have been made public, Bronfman says he and his father, Edgar Sr., will recuse themselves from participation on VU’s board deliberations as the company reviews offers for the properties, which it has said it would like to sell before the end of summer.

If Bronfman is able to raise the financing to make an offer, he will face increasing competition from rival bidders. Those said to be in the running so far include oil billionaire Marvin Davis, John Malone’s Liberty Media, NBC, Viacom and possibly Barry Diller.

According to The New York Times, Vivendi has formal meetings with NBC and Viacom scheduled for next week. Following those, meetings with both Liberty Media and Marvin Davis will take place.

So far, the Davis consortium, whose $15 billion bid for the Universal assets is said to still be the only actual offer Vivendi has received, has been the only potential buyer interested in acquiring Universal Music Group along with the rest of the entertainment properties.

Should he be able to make a bid, Bronfman will also include UMG in his offer. He is said to be a firm believer in keeping the Universal film and music properties together, citing Eminem’s 8 Mile as an example of how the two can work together.